FATHERS PLAYING CATCH WITH SONS *

– after Donald Hall

In the yard with bat, ball and mitt,
an athletic father and an artistic son
catch and throw misgivings. I played
for his favor and affection,
fearing even more than line drives
the unmet expectation in his eyes.

Call it a measure of distance,
his muted disappointment and the gap
between home plate and the pitcher’s mound.
Even now, with him long gone, that look
calls me out. I’ve kept it from my children,
those felt but unshed tears and the sound
of grunted breath that filled the inch-wide
chasms between a swing and a miss.